Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Battle of Jutland 100 -- May 31, 2016

Washington Evening Star, 03-June-1916
100 years ago, on 31-May and 01-June-1916, the British Grand Fleet and the German High Seas Fleet fought in the North Sea.  This was the only time the dreadnoughts of the two navies fought a large-scale battle during World War One.  People still disagree about who won and which British admiral deserved the most blame.

The Germans destroyed more British ships and killed more British sailors, but the Grand Fleet was much larger than the High Seas Fleet, so I believe that the British came out far ahead.

I believe that British Admiral David Beatty and his command made some mistakes that nearly cost the British the battle.  I support Admiral John Jellicoe, the Commander in Chief.

If you want to learn more about the battle, I recommend Robert K Massie's book Castles of Steel:

This article from the 03-June-1916 Rock Island Argus accepts the German statements that they won.  Dreadnought HMS Warspite survived to fight through World War Two and dreadnought HMS Marlborough survived World War One.  British battlecruisers HMS Indefatigable, Queen Mary and Invincible were sunk because of magazine explosions.  Royal Navy destroyer HMS Shark sank during the battle.  German dreadnought SMS Westfalen survived the battle.  German light cruiser SMS Elbing was scuttled after being damaged in the battle.  SMS Pommern, a German pre-dreadnought, sank during the battle.  



Teuton Officials Highly Satisfied With Victory in the North Sea.


London Admiralty Denies Loss of Giant Craft -- England in Gloom

London, June 3, (11:10 a.m.) -- The admiralty received a report today to the effect that Captain Prowse, commander of the Queen Mary and the entire personnel of that battle cruiser were lost.

According to estimates here, which in the absence of official figures can only be conjectured, the British losses in men most be somewhere in the neighborhood of 5,000. It is similarly estimated
that the German losses were at least between 2,000 and 3,000 men.

No attempt is made here to minimize the seriousness of the British losses in ships and men and that according to present information the German fleet had the best of the action. Strong hopes are entertained, however, that later reports may minimize the seriousness of this British naval setback.

The greatest regret is felt here over the loss of the battlecruiser Queen Mary, which was one of the show ships of the British navy.

She was only completed at Jarrow in 1913. Her crew numbered about 1,000 men. The other cruisers were older vessels.

The British admiralty stated today that the battleship .Marlborough was hit by a torpedo, but was towed safely to port.

The dreadnought Warspite was damaged by gunfire, the admiralty added, but escaped torpedoes.

The German dreadnought Westfalen of 18,600 tons has been added to the steadily growing list of vessels sunk in the great naval engagement off the Jutland coast, according to a wireless dispatch from Berlin which says the German admiralty admits the loss of this warship.

Additions earlier in the day were the German cruiser Elbing, displacing between 4,000 and 5,000 tons, and the British destroyer Shark. Nearly all the men who manned the destroyer were lost.

Berlin, June 3, (by wireless from a staff correspondent of the Associated Press, via Sayville, N. Y.) -- The first naval battle on a grand scale during the present war has been attended by results which, according to the information received here, are highly satisfactory to the Germans, not only in respect of the comparative losses of the two fleets but in the fact that the Germans maintained the field after the battle. This is shown, German commentators assert, by the rescue of British survivors.

The full German high seas fleet was engaged under personal command of Vice Admiral Scheer, the energetic German commander who succeeded Admiral von Pohl. The British fleet is now estimated at approximately twice as strong in guns and ships as that under Admiral Scheer.

Battle Near Norway.

Detailed reports have not yet been received but the main engagement apparently occurred about 125 miles southwest of the southern extremity of Norway and 150 miles off the Danish coast. The battle was divided into two sections. The day engagement began at about 4 o'clock in the afternoon and continued until darkness, or about 9 o'clock. This was followed by a series of separate engagements through the night.

The exact ranges and course of the day fight have not been ascertained. It is assumed the ranges of the day engagement were not extreme, possibly at a distance of about eight miles as the weather was hazy.

The German torpedo boats and destroyers were more effective than the British, accounting to a considerable extent for the successes for the Germans against an overwhelmingly superior force. It is understood the Queen Mary and the Indefatigable were both sunk in the day battle. It has not been learned when the Warspite and the other British warships went down. (The loss of the Warspite is denied officially by the British).

Ships Return Safely.

All the German warships except those mentioned in the official report reached Wilhelmshaven safely. Thus far nothing has been reported regarding the extent to which any of these vessels were damaged. A fuller report from Admiral Scheer is expected soon.

It is stated at the admiralty that at least 34 British capital ships were engaged and that the British torpedo flotillas were severely handled. The battleship Westfalen alone sank six torpedo boats during the night encounters.

 German personnel and material alike stood the test brilliantly and the damage sustained by the German fleet is small in comparison with the British losses. The battleship Pommern, which was sunk, was commanded by Captain Boelken.

Berlin Celebrating Victory.

Berlin is decked with flags and the achievement of the German fleet has aroused the greatest enthusiasm.  There was a remarkable demonstration in the reichstag when Rear Admiral Hebbinghaus, former naval attache to the German embassy at Washington, announced the result of the battle.

Deny Loss of Warspite.

London. June 3, (11:10 a. m.)
-- Captain William Hall, chief of the intelligence bureau authorizes the Associated Press to say:

"The German report of the loss of the Marlborough and Warspite is absolutely untrue. Both of these dreadnoughts are safe in harbor.

"The German report that the entire British battle fleet was engaged is equally untrue. A portion of the British fleet, much inferior to the total battle fleet of the Germans, engaged that fleet and drove it back into its harbor. The British control the North sea."

Six Destroyers Sunk.

A report from the Hague, as forwarded from Amsterdam to the Central News, says six German destroyers were sunk by the British and that a large cruiser severely damaged was towed into the harbor at Kiel. It is estimated 150 ships engaged in the battle.

It is not considered probable the shipwrecked British and German sailors will be interned in Holland as they have promised not to attempt to escape. The German minister at the Hague will go to Ymulden to make an investigation.

England in Gloom.

The British public, which retired last night cast down by the first news of the North sea battle as contained in the earlier British and German reports, took some comfort from the later British report published in the morning papers. This report, while it did not decrease the British losses except in destroyers, which were reduced from eleven to eight, shows the losses of the Germans were much greater than was at first estimated.

According to this latest account of the great naval engagement the German losses include two battleships, one battle cruiser, one light cruiser and six destroyers sunk; two battle cruisers damaged and three battleships hit.  Naval writers also point out that the German fleet retired as soon as the
main British fleet appeared on the scene so that there is no question about the superiority of sea power remaining in British hands. The loss of British ships is of course admittedly serious, while the loss in officers and men has cast a gloom over the whole country.

British Outnumbered!

Careful comparison of the British and German reports of the sea fight off the Danish coast seem to indicate that Vice Admiral Sir David Beatty's cruiser squadron came in contact with the German main fleet, or possibly, in the first instance, a portion of that force.

Although aware that he was opposing a stronger force than his own, the official statements make it appear, naval observers says, that Vice Admiral Beatty courageously engaged the Germans. Later presumably the whole German fleet appeared. Vice Admiral Beatty was then completely outnumbered and before Admiral Jellicoe's main fleet was able to get into action, the Germans made off.

British naval experts comment on the apparently fair and impartial nature of both the German and British official statements. It is believed the German losses were greater than was admitted in the official reports, but it is noticeable that the German communication confesses to more serious losses than were given in the British report.

Washington Evening Star, 03-June-1916

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